Who stole all our reality?

I’m a little more technical than many in today’s digital world but that said, I’ve never really been a great fan of science fiction. As a kid I briefly followed Doctor Who, until some cybermonster gave me a few sleepless nights. I’m also happy to admit to being a Star Trek fan for a while, but never a full-blown Trekkie

You see it was never actually the ‘fiction’ aspect that actually captured my imagination or attention. However, if anyone has the notion that I’m some sort of technophobe or ludit, think again. I possess many bits of technology commonly assosciated with a family of our digital age.

Although I own the latest smartphone, I’ve owned a mobile phone since the 1980’s. I have a laptop but have been using computers since the days of ZX-Spectrum and the BBC-B. My home entertainment system has HDMI widescreen TV, iPod docs, DVD recorders etc. but one thing you’ll never find in my digital world is computer games.

Reading through a BBC article on the new ‘Out of this World Exhibition’ at The British Library and associated comment (see below), I was interested in the line; “We are, as a society, no better than any other society at choosing which future to embrace.” How true is that I thought? The leading paragraph of the article was also very pertinent to many of the problems we face today…

BBC News – Today – Are we living in a sci-fi future? – War has not vanished, nor are we living in a state of total war. We are not all raised in test tubes, despite all our fears and hopes about genetic engineering, neither are we slaves of the corporate state, however much we watch X-Factor.

A factor that is true however is; far too many of us live our lives in a continual state of virtual reality. How many people, especially those of formative years, actually spend much time in the big outside world, testing their limitations and finding their strengths and weaknesses?

We wrap our kids in cotton wool as soon as they can walk and continually warn them about the bogey man. Our teenagers sit for hours on end in their bedrooms playing computer games, rarely communicating with others and when they do it is generally via some form of electronic means. They seldom learn any non verbal communications skills such as body-language, speech articulation or the resulting emotional feedback from the individual they are communicating with.

A simple 🙂 ‘X’‘ in a text message or displayed in some social media network is perceived to be a message of undying love, until the recipient finds the originator uses it in all their messages to the opposite sex that is. Young girls with a crush on some bloke, when their advances are spurned, suddenly accuse them of pedophilia. Teenage boys use the net to threaten and bully others in an attempt to enhance their credibility and reputation as a prepubescent acne laden Hip-Hop street Gangsta yoof init… Wasup ‘n’ wordup etc.

In short, our society is traveling through puberty and into adulthood with very little comprehension of the realities of life. Many have no boundaries and have no comprehension or concern about the consequences of their actions (you can’t die crashing your car in Grand Theft Auto). Probably a contributory factor in the case of Santre Sanchez Gayle, a boy 15yrs old at the time of the offence, who murdered a young mother for £200 and gained the reputation of becoming the UK’s youngest contract hitman.

Even those who progress to adulthood, with a little more savvy and educational bent than their socially inept peers, tend to perpetuate societies inherent lack of realism. We have a tendency to live in a world which is governed by theory, business modeling and what if calculus. We allow and actively encourage decision-making by people who evidence their argument or theory upon the reasearch and theoretical assumption of preceding academics and theorists. This is nowhere more evident than within the public sector and, all this is before you even start to consider the impacts of society’s media lead expectations and contrived emotions.

Our working lives are filled with a never-ending think tank of what can often only be refered to as pie in the sky thinking. A methodology whereby all the solutions to all the problems are brainstormed and developed by airheads without cognisance of reality. People who have spent their childhood, and much of their limited adult life, in a cocoon of virtual electronic simulation and stimulation, that or comfortable seats of learning swallowing a constant diet of theory after theory. Perhaps if they came down from their virtual cloud of blue sky thinking once in a while, they might actually understand the realities and consequences of their actions. Who knows, they may even learn how to converse with the more realistic mortals?

As a society, we are all responsible for the theft of reality. We can deny the charge as vociferously and for as long as we like however the fact remains; until we admit our wrong doings, repent for our failings and make changes to reverse these trends things will only get worse. We need to promote and build a more realistic hands on approach to understanding all the practicalities of life, in both social and business terms!

The Mark 2 fibreglass 'Tardis'

I wonder if the fact I once ate my sandwiches in a Tardis on Scarborough sea front (see here), would actually qualify me as a Time Lord? Or maybe just some nutty Professor heading back to his future. Either way, it was certainly a differing time and relative dimension in space!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 25-05-2011, in Society Babble and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Commenting on our digital age in the Huffiington Post recently a contributor asked; How Much of Our Life Are We Living Through a Screen?

    …We should of course enjoy its huge and exciting opportunities – the ones which benefit mankind and our lives.
    Greater sharing of information to empower us and our countries, deeper knowledge to help us live richer lives – especially in areas of science, medicine and business that boom because technology speeds it up.
    But man needs to be in control of the machine and not the other way round.
    Otherwise we will end up in a Matrix like world where a virtual reality will start to replace the real one.

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  2. Max Weber wrote long and hard on this Dave. German around 1920. The iron cage of bureaucracy. In academe we ended-up with ‘procedures in place’ for everything, all copied from somewhere else. One day, to rescue a degree validation (wheeled in in a last-ditch attempt to provide academic credibility by my boss who hated me), I found myself defending the lack of a module on the learning organisation. My module of this name had been axed by an idiot colleague. I found myself saying that concepts of the learning organisation under-pinned the very philosophy and teaching methods of the programme and we did not now, as for the last ten years, teach it as a separate module. ‘Splendid’ said the moderator, bringing down his rubber stamp. Over a drink, he asked me how I could work with such guileless pisspots and showed me a dozen examples where they had failed to change areas of the course document to read University of Bolton not Portsmouth, where the dross was copied from.

    The ‘new thinking’ is not even thought up, just copied. The classic area is ‘equal opportunities’. Given that agriculture is about 5% of world GDP, it’s a good guess that 90% of all ‘work’ is about nothing.

    Another Weber classic is the iron law of oligarchy – in which a democratic party eventually stifles its own democratic free speech through its own rules.

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